Christopher Wren 1632-1723
Firstly an astronomer, Wrens opportunity came after the Great Fire. Commissioned by the King to rebuild the city along with 51 churches in 1670, Wren was responsible for many of London's best buildings including:
St Paul's Cathedral
St Clement Dane in the Strand
St James in Piccadilly
St Mary le Bow in Cheapside and many others.
1] with the largely forgotten Robert Hooke.
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Great Fire of London
In 1666 a fire started at the kings bakers in Pudding Lane, the baker and his household escaped onto a roof through an upstairs window, except for one servant girl too afraid of the climb, who became the first casualty of the fire. Sparks soon ignited hay in the yard of The Star Inn nearby. Fire spread from the inn to St Margaret's Church, which was soon ablaze. The flames swept down Fish Street Hill to the warehouses on Thames Street. Without any proper fire brigade nothing could stop the flames in a city built of wood. For six days the firestorm raged, consuming 87 churches, 44 livery halls and 13,200 houses.
The Lord Mayor was told of the fire on the first day but (fires were common) he remarked "a woman might piss it out". But when Samuel Pepys realised how serious the situation was he went to King Charles II (after burying his parmesan cheese in his garden and sending his family to Greenwich). As head of the Admiralty he obtained the King's permission to use his sailors to bring gunpowder and blast a firebreak and the fire gradually subsided.
Surprisingly, only six people are known to have died but thousands were ruined. 100,000 were left homeless.
The fire is commemorated by The Monument.
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The Tower of London is staffed by about 40 Yeoman Warders who now show visitors around the tower. Originally they were the bodyguards of Henry VIII. A company of pikemen now made up of retired non commissioned officers from the armed forces. They wear a blue undress uniform and a red and gold dress uniform on state occasions.
The origin of the nickname "beefeater" is unclear but may relate to the ration of beef they received.
An old nursery rhyme (and street game) is sung to the tune of the bells of St. Clement Danes:-
Oranges and lemons
Chop chop chop chop the last man's head!
The churches are:-
Old Curiosity Shop
Old Cheshire Cheese
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